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Review: Detective Comics #1000
“Detective Comics #1000”
Writers: Peter J. Tomasi, Tom King, Geoff Johns, Brian Michael Bendis, Christopher Priest, Denny O’Neil, Warren Ellis, Paul Dini, Kevin Smith & Scott Snyder
Artists: Dough Mahnke, Tony S. Daniel, Joëlle Jones, Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Kelley Jones, Alex Maleev, Neal Adams, Steve Epting, Becky Cloonan, Dustin Nguyen, Jim Lee, Mikel Janín, Jason Fabok, Amanda Conner & Greg Capullo
Inkers: Jaime Mendoza, Raül Fernandez, Derek Fridolfs, Scott Williams & Jonathan Glapion
Color Artists: David Baron, Tomeu Morey, Brad Anderson, Paul Mounts, Michelle Madsen, Dave Stewart, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Jordie Bellaire, John Kalisz, Alex Sinclair & FCO Plascencia
Letterers: Rob Leigh, Clayton Cowles, Sal Cipriano, Josh Reed, Willie Schubert, Andworld Design, Simon Bowland, Steve Wands, Todd Klein & Tom Napolitano
Review by Steve J. Ray
Batman’s Longest Case
When DC revealed the incredible talents that would be contributing to Detective Comics #1000, I was understandably excited. After finally reading the book I can happily say that, in my honest opinion, it more than lives up to the hype. This single issue contains nostalgia, fun, action, adventure, kick-ass martial arts and detective stories. When you open a comic and see that the first tale is by Scott Snyder, with art by Greg Capullo, inks by Jonathan Glapion, colors by FCO Plascencia and letters by Tom Napolitano you know that you’re onto a winner.
Scott and Greg were responsible for most of the incredible New 52 Batman stories, and the bonkers but Brilliant Dark Nights: Metal. Yes, these gents gave us “The Court Of Owls” stories, a faceless Joker, Jim Gordon as Batman and the “Zero Year”, part of the inspiration behind the final season of Gotham.
“Batman’s Longest Case” shows us Batman the detective, and it’s beautiful. I’m not one for spoilers, but to say what (and who) the Dark Knight discovers at the end of the trail of clues will blow your mind. Even though I knew what was coming (thanks to online conversations with the writer and artists), seeing Batman follow the trail of breadcrumbs filled my fanboy heart with joy. Many of the tales in this milestone volume are standalone love letters to Batman fans, this is too… and more besides. “Batman’s Longest Case” is one of the stories that’s planting the seeds for new and wonderful tales to come. I cannot wait!
Manufacture For Use
Kevin Smith and Jim Lee are two men who deserve the title “Comic-book icon.” Of all the standalone tributes in this issue, all of which were phenomenal, this is one of my two favorites.
I’ve always loved Batman because he turned the greatest tragedy of his life into a positive. In this story he goes one step further, explaining a classic piece of Bat-lore surrounding his costume in the process. The script and dialogue are sublime, the art is wonderful and enhanced by the incredible inks and colors of Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair. The trio of Lee, Williams and Sinclair has been churning out comics masterpieces for decades; Batman: Hush being one of the greatest, and most recognised. Once you’ve read this tale, I’m sure you’ll agree that this story will join that illustrious list.
Seeing Todd Klein as letterer ties up the package with a beautiful little bow, and it’s always great seeing “Matches” Malone!
The Legend Of Knute Brody
No anthology would be complete without a story that’s just 100% pure fun. What talents could be better than Paul “Batman: The Animated Series” Dini and Dustin “L’il Gotham” Nguyen to deliver such a tale?
I LOVE this story. Knute Brody is the character I never new I wanted until I read his legendary history. He’s so darned cool that I hope he becomes an ongoing part of the Batman mythos. Dini and Nguyen, alongside inker Derek Fridolfs, color artist John Kalisz and letterer Steve Wands have delivered eight pages of joy.
We see all of the things that are arguably the most ridicluous aspects of comic-books, and highlight just how and why we love them so. Brilliant!
The Batman’s Design
A figure of fear in a city of fear. I would love to credit whoever made that quote about Batman, but it has been lost in the mists of time and middle-age. The Dark Knight has always used his appearance to strike fear into the hearts and minds of criminals. Nowhere has this been more concisely and effectively demonstrated than in this little gem of a story. Warren Ellis, Becky Cloonan, Jordie Bellaire and Simon Bowland have produced a tale featuring shattering skylights, billowing capes, bullet dodging and a Batman at his calculating, bellicose best.
He uses every trick in the book, negates his opponents strengths, exploits their weaknesses and, in so doing, delivers vintage Batman in a tasty 10 page package. Criminals are a “Superstitious and Cowardly lot” and the Batman knows it.
Return To Crime Alley
Upon hearing that the legendary Denny O’Neil would be contributing a story to Detective Comics #1000 I almost cried a nostalgic tear. The first American comic-book I ever read was 'Tec #457, which first introduced the character of Leslie Thompkins. Yes folks, THAT Denny O’Neil. This man is, to my mind, the greatest Batman editor of all time, and one of the finest writers to contribute to the Dark Knight’s history. This is a man who’s written tales for Charlton, Marvel and DC Comics, breaking down barriers and making history along the way. He gave us the groundbreaking Green Lantern/Green Arrow and created Ra’s and Talia Al Ghul.
Need I say more?
Growing up in the U.K. I read reprints of old American comics, some of which republished 60s DC and Marvel books. I grew up watching Adam West’s Batman, and the British comics of my childhood contained the campy, fun, kid friendly Bat-Tales of the 50s and 60s, which matched the tone of the TV show.
Batman Legends… Told by Batman Legends
You can only imagine how I felt when some Canadian cousins visited the U.K. bringing some American comics with them, including ‘Tec #457. This comic changed my life… this is neither hyperbole nor exaggeration. Up until the moment I read this book, Batman had always been a figure of fun, frolics and light-hearted adventure. “There Is No Hope In Crime Alley” gave me my first experience of Batman as a figure of darkness. I finally learned his origin, and discovered why it was that he dressed as a bat and fought crime.
This blew my seven year old mind.
“Return To Crime Alley” is both a tribute and a re-telling of the story that made me a Bat-Fan for life. Denny O’Neil, thank you. Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser, kudos for your beautiful art. You both managed to bring back the feel of the original, while adding your own stamp and character to the tale. Andworld design, thanks for the gorgeous text, which I read through nostalgia fuelled tears.
If Denny O’Neil is ranked as one of the greatest Batman writers, then surely we needed the presence of one of the character’s most legendary artists in these pages too, right? Ladies and gentlemen, Neal Adams.
It would have been easy to pair O’Neil and Adams together again, but one of my favorite aspects of Detective Comics #1000 is the way that it has made new teams out of current and classic creators. This both respects the past and shows us that the next 80 years of the Dark Knight’s legacy are in safe hands.
Christopher Priest is one of the best writers working in comics today. Anyone who’s read my Deathstroke Vs. Batman reviews will know how much I love his work. This tale shows us the power of Batman’s influence on others and how he can inspire, as well as terrify. This is sometimes helpful, but can also have dark, unforeseen consequences. Batman is a man, is fallible and human. This is one of the many reasons that he’s my all-time favorite comics character.
Seeing legendary letterer Willie Schubert’s work with Neal Adams’ art made me very happy. Two legends with one of today’s best and brightest color artists, Dave Stewart, added another layer of class and culture to the visuals.
DC very kindly published this gorgeous 9 page tale in it’s entirety back in February, as a tasty starter to whet readers appetites for this scrumtrelescent main course. Brian Michael Bendis has given us a lovely twist as to why NOT revealing Batman’s identity may be better than spilling the beans. Very clever and thought provoking. Alex Maleev’s art is, unsurprisingly, as beautiful as ever and the tale is lovingly lettered by Josh Reed.
You can read the complete story by clicking this link, but I honestly urge you to go out and buy this beautiful comic. You will NOT regret it.
The Last Crime In Gotham
As comedy stories are a must for any anthology, so are “Possible Futures.” I recently had the extreme good fortune of reading and reviewing the excellent Batman: Kings Of Fear, illustrated by the amazing Kelley Jones. Seeing him reunited with color artist Michelle Madsen and letterer Rob Leigh, who were his collaborators on that brilliant mini-series, is great.
When you add writer Geoff Johns to the mix, you just know that you’re in for a treat.
I know that all these “What If” scenarios should be taken with a pinch of sodium chloride, but I would love to imagine this a possible future for Batman. I’m not spoiling anything that the first page of this tale, reproduced above, already hasn’t. Just seeing Ace, an adult Damian Wayne alongside Batman, Catwoman and their daughter(!) put a Joker-worthy grin on my face. I’m positive that the rest of the story will add similar smiles to many readers’ faces, especially when you find out who it is that’s imagining this potential future.
From a possible future, to a moment in history. Batman has inspired many, and this gorgeous tale takes us back to the early days of his first, and arguably greatest, protege. Dick Grayson, the original Robin and later a legendary crime fighter in his own right, Nightwing.
Any regular reader of my reviews will know of my love, admiration and respect for writer James Tynion IV, penciller Álvaro Martínez Bueno, inker Raül Fernandez, color artist Brad Anderson and letterer Sal Cipriano. James Tynion kicked off the Rebirth era of Detective Comics starting with issue #934 before leaving the title after #981. This Detective Comics run is arguably one of the greatest in the series’ history, and one of my all time favorites. This is coming from someone who hasn’t missed a single issue of Batman or ‘Tec in over 33 years.
The Legacy Of Detective Comics
During this run I had the pleasure of talking to and interviewing the art team of penciller Álvaro Martínez and inker Raül Fernandez. These gents are two of the most talented artists working in comics today, and two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Check out their interviews (links above) and take a look at the art they provided.
People wondering why I use the term “Color Artist” as opposed to colorist in my reviews just needs to zoom in on the first panel of the title page for “The Precedent” (reproduced above) for the answer. Brad Anderson is an incredible talent. If you pick up any book with his name on the cover, I guarantee that you’ll be blown away. The same goes for Álvaro, Raül and letterer Sal Cipriano. This team gave me some of my favorite ‘Tec stories, with James Tynion and have reproduced their magic with their wonderful Bruce/Alfred/Dick Grayson story in Detective Comics #1000.
This team is awesome… period. So much so that I lobbied to be the writer that got the assignment to review Justice League Dark. BUY THIS SERIES, PEOPLE! While you’re at it, pick up ‘Tec #1000. “The Precedent” is eleventeen kinds of awesomesauce.
Batman’s Greatest Case
Batman’s a loner. The Dark Knight isn’t really a team player. I prefer Batman when he’s working alone.
We couldn’t leave this issue without taking a look at Batman’s team. People often wonder why this character has recruited teenagers and trained them. Some treat this as suspect, others look on in horror, while some just accept it and enjoy it.
For me, it boils down to one thing.
Batman was created when he lost his family, and he’s spent the rest of his life creating a new one. It’s that simple. Writer Tom King and artists Tony S. Daniel and Joëlle Jones have created a gorgeous and evocative story which exemplifies this, and expands on it in a whole new way. The dialogue and character interactions in this piece are beautiful, poignant and hilarious in equal measure. Every character is just that; each one has their own style, voice and personality.
Tomeu Morey’s colors go from cold blues to warm oranges and reds, depending on the setting and situation, adding yet more depth to the story. Clayton Cowles handles a ton of dialogue, all of which is necessary, thought provoking and smart. All together “Batman’s Greatest Case” is an eight page 80th anniversary birthday gift.
With the final story in the collection, current bat-Scribe, Peter J. Tomasi, drags us kicking and screaming right back to the present. This is only Tomasi’s seventh issue, and already he’s made a lasting impression. His work on Superman and Batman & Robin inspired hope and trust in me, which Mr. Tomasi has well and truly delivered upon.
Medieval is not only the perfect epilogue to “Mythology” (‘Tec #994 – #999) it’s a brand new, standalone tale, which sets the stage for the story to come.
There are lots of terrific pin-ups in this issue, and all twelve pages of this story, each one a gorgeous splash page, qualify. Doug Mahnke is awesome. He pencilled six issues in three months and drew this story too! Inker Jaime Mendoza shares the inking duties, and the story is colored by their Detective Comics colleague, the brilliant David Baron.
I’m not giving away that last page, except to say that another character from Batman’s adventures outside of comics will be joining the DC Universe. Who is he? What’s his story and why does he have issues with Batman?
I cannot wait to find out!
Let’s just hope that everything turns out alright on the Knight.
Comedy, action, fear, frivolity, the future and the past. This issue has it all. Whenever there’s so much hype built around a title one can often be underwhelmed when the final product hits the shelves. Not this time!
The only complaint I have about Detective Comics #1000 was that I didn’t want it to end. Yes, folks. This one’s a buyer… and a keeper.
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment
(This review was originally published on the Dark Knight News website on March 27th 2019)
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